Cuba and the United States Round of Migration Talks

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Featured Cuba and the United States Round of Migration Talks

A new round of migration talks was held between the delegations of Cuba and the United States, which were headed by Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, Director General of the United States Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Edward Alex Lee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

During the meeting, both Parties reviewed the implementation of the Migration Accords between the two countries and exchanged on the combat against illegal migration. The Cuban delegation reiterated its profound concern over the continued politicization of the migration issue with regard to Cuba by the Government of the United States as a result of the enforcement of the Cuban Adjustment Act, and particularly the implementation of the so-called ‘wet foot/dry foot’ policy, which grants Cubans a differentiated treatment which is unique in the world, since they are immediately and automatically admitted into the United States, regardless of the ways and means they use, even if they arrive in the US territory through irregular ways.

The Cuban representatives emphasized that this policy has encouraged illegal, unsafe and disorderly migration, as well as alien smuggling and irregular entries into the United States from third countries by Cuban citizens who leave Cuba legally and enter legally the first country of destination, from which they continue travelling, through irregular ways, to the United States, thus becoming victims of networks of human traffickers and organized crime, as has been recently evidenced by the situation created in Costa Rica and other countries in the region.

The Cuban delegation insisted that this policy violates the letter and the spirit of the Migration Accords in force, by virtue of which the US Government committed to discontinue the practice of admitting all Cuban migrants arriving in that territory through irregular ways in order to ensure a legal, safe and orderly migration between both countries.

Instead, the United States delegation indicated that its Government does not have the intention to introduce changes in the migration policy applied to Cuban citizens.

The Cuban delegation reaffirmed its rejection of the “Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program” established by the administration of George W. Bush in 2006 with the purpose of encouraging Cuban doctors and other health personnel to abandon their missions in third countries and migrate to the United States. The Cuban delegation emphasized that this is a reprehensible practice aimed at harming Cuba’s cooperation programs and deprive Cuba and many other countries from vital human resources.

The Cuban delegation emphasized that the ‘wet foot/dry foot’ policy as well as the “Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program” are inconsistent with the present bilateral context, hamper the normalization of migratory relations between Cuba and the United States and create problems for other countries of the region.

During the round, which was held in a respectful and professional atmosphere, other aspects related to migratory relations were discussed, including the compliance with the agreements in force, the issuance of migrant and temporary visas, the actions taken on both sides to cope with illegal migration, human smuggling and document fraud. Both delegations agreed on the positive results achieved during the bilateral technical meeting on migratory fraud held in March, 2015, in Havana, which both parties agreed to hold again next year in Washington.

The Cuban delegation expressed its satisfaction over the holding in April of a video-conference about a new communication procedure between Cuba’s Border Guard and the US Coast Guard and confirmed the holding of a new technical meeting between both services in Havana in December, 2015.

The Cuban delegation expressed its willingness to maintain these talks and invited a US delegation to travel to Havana during the first semester of 2016 to hold a new round.

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